Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Sea Was a Fair Master by Calvin Demmer – Book Review

Book: The Sea Was a Fair Master
Author: Calvin Demmer
(Short story collection)
Publication Date: 5 June 2018
Publisher: Unnerving

The Sea Was a Fair Master by Calvin Demmer is a collection of 23 short stories spanning realism to paranormal, from sad-and-heartbreaking family and romance to stories that will have you hiding under your bed.

Most of the pieces in the collection have either unexpected endings or unthought of events from start to finish. Demmer will keep you guessing about the motives of the characters till you read the last word and say "WOW" or "Yikes!" or "Wicked!"

“On these dark-blue waves, it is the sea who is judge, jury, and executioner.”

The Sea Was a Fair Master begins with “On the Seventh Day”, a strong and deep opening story with the silent sea as the main theme. It is followed by “Restroom Finds”, a thrilling story. I loved it – even though it was a little gory. Don’t want to give it away but it’s creative and new!

“Underneath” is the third piece in the collection. It’s creepy. Unexpected. Totally five stars!

“Revenge of the Myth” is a 10-star story, which means I was blown away by it.

“Fear the Clowns” had me saying “Yikes!” and “Lol” at the same time. Imagine that.
“West” is an interesting albeit slightly black-comedy kind-of-story. Demmer is lauded for his ability to keep both reader and characters like on edge until the end.

“They were a little nosy like you officer,” a voice said. “I can’t have people coming and disturbing the dead.”

“Letting the Dead Grow” is another fresh piece of creativity with an unexpected turnout. Five stars to this one.

When I picked up the collection, I planned to keep “The Snakes or the Humans” till the end because of my fear of snakes. But I’m glad I didn’t. A sad tale, the story is a 10-star emotional piece.

Meanwhile, “The Guests” is a very short piece. The ending? You won’t see it coming! Five stars.

Easily finished in a sitting or two, The Sea Was a Fair Master collection is simply un-put-down-able.

“Like a Spanish Guitar” mixes the dreaminess of romance with the paranormal. A 10-star, highly enjoyable story, which I might add is quite terrifying. I could visualise it from start to finish. And I loved it.

Then there is “Hangman”, a horrifying – need I say ‘unexpected’ –story that nearly had me biting my nails. I loved how Demmer took a simple children’s game and turned it into a creepy story. After reading it, I also felt that Demmer should consider writing moving scripts; they’d definitely be innovative compared to what we see often. 10 stars to this one.

“Graves” is a sad, beautiful, and emotional story that nearly brought me to tears. Another 10-star piece.

Last but certainly NOT least is “Sea Ate Nine”, which is gripping from start to finish with lots of puns. A wicked read. Pun intended!

One of the things I liked about The Sea Was a Fair Master was that many of the stories had unexpected endings. Demmer’s word choice, imagery, and overall sentences are well-thought out, easy to read, and he’s done a great job with the pacing of his stories. There isn’t a boring one in the group.

Other recommended reads (five-star stories) in the collection include “Yara”, “Voodoo Child”, “The Sea Was a Fair Master”, “Not Suicide”, “Evolution = Crime”, and “Noisy Neighbours”.


Overall rating for The Sea Was a Fair Master by Calvin Demmer: 5 stars. There were only two stories that didn't appeal to me, but the collection still deserves five stars. It would be unfair on my part to give it anything less.


Note: I received an Advanced Reader's Copy (ARC) of The Sea Was a Fair Master from its author Calvin Demmer in exchange for an honest review.